Champion Power Equipment has earned a reputation for designing and producing the market’s finest power equipment. To date, the company has sold over 2.5 million generators in North America, making the business an undisputed leader in the field.
In business since 2003, the company has expanded from its original Santa Fe Springs, California headquarters to include facilities in Jackson, Tennessee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Toronto, Canada. Champion’s product line has expanded along with its geographical footprint to include portable generators, home standby generators, inverter generators, engines, winches and log splitters.
Whatever the power equipment product, Champion utilizes the latest and most advanced technology. The company opened a dedicated research and development center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin about three years ago to ensure that it stays at the leading edge. “That R&D center has been one of the reasons why we have been able to produce all of this new technology,” says Todd Welzbacher, Champion Power Equipment’s Vice President of Sales & Business Development. From dual fuel technology to home standby generators and convenient remote starting functions, “the investment is paying off.”
Known as Champion Engine Technology (CET), the new state-of-the-art product development facility is staffed by some of the industry’s most talented and experienced engineering minds. Engines are at the heart of all Champion’s products, so CET’s engineers have a breadth of expertise in engine design and engine technology. By drawing on this expertise, Champion is able to anticipate customers’ needs and provide innovative, impactful new products and product enhancements. The company summarizes this approach by saying that its engineers can “see around the corner” to deliver tomorrow’s products today.
The team’s introduction of alternative fuel is just one of the company’s exciting new breakthroughs. Generators have always been powered by gasoline, but Champion’s new portable generators can be powered by either gasoline or propane. “That is new technology,” Mr. Welzbacher points out. This innovative advancement means that users do not have to worry about running out of fuel. “In a power outage, many times not only is your house without power but the gas station is without power. If they can’t pump gas you could always grab your propane tank from your grill and power the generator off of your propane tank. And you can always get more propane by swapping out your propane tank at your local retailer.”
Champion is also using its technological knowhow to expand the size of its invertor generators. These generators are typically used for camping, RVing, or any other outdoor activity where people need a portable power source. “An invertor generator is unique because it is a very quiet operating generator, so people like to use it for recreational purposes. They want some electrical power, but they want that power to be lightweight, compact, and quiet. An invertor generator gives them all of that.”
However, the market has traditionally only offered very small, 2,000-watt invertor generators, so their use was limited. This year Champion launched a larger, 3,100-watt unit. This allows the generator to power items that require more energy, such as a rooftop air conditioner. “No one else can do that,” says Mr. Welzbacher.
Champion is also making technological advancements in home standby generators. “The unique thing that we have in home standby generators is cold starting.” This is a crucial attribute in colder climates, where ice storms cause a majority of power outages. “Our generators will start in up to -22 degrees Fahrenheit, which is unique in the industry. No one else’s will start at that cold a temperature. So it is really well suited to power outages in the northern areas.”
In addition, the company’s home standby generator is a market leader when it comes to combating noise pollution. “Our home standby generators are the quietest in their class,” says Mr. Welzbacher. The machine is permanently installed right outside the home, so it is critical that the unit runs as quietly as possible.
All of Champion’s products are available from retailers throughout the United States and Canada. This includes small, local retailers as well as major brands including Canadian Tire, Costco, The Home Depot, Lowes, NAPA Auto Parts, True Value, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Tractor Supply Company, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and many more.
The company works closely with its retail partners to ensure that the arrangement is win-win. “We form very close relationships with the people we do business with and we are very attuned with how they do business. We try to create programs that support how they go to market. And one of the things that partnership has led to is mutual success.”
One of Champion’s longstanding priorities is customer service. “Our customer support is legendary,” the company website states. “Staffed in the US and Canada by our certified Champion Power Equipment technicians, our support mission is to provide unparalleled service to our customers and to assure 100 percent satisfaction with their Champion products.”
The team continues to add new programs so that customers remain satisfied. For instance, the company launched a new national instillation service this year for its home standby units. “Because a home standby generator is installed outside your home, you need an expert—a person who can work with the electrical and also work with your gas line in order to power the home generator,” Mr. Welzbacher explains.
With Champion’s new program in place, customers can easily find a qualified installer as well as a long-term service provider. As a result, customers now enjoy full support from the moment they buy the product until the end of its lifespan. “If a customer buys a Champion home standby generator they can reach out and have it installed by a professional, licensed installer who will also be there to back up the warranty and make service calls. They are going to establish a relationship with the homeowner so if there are any issues or problems they are there to service the unit down the road.” This ability to provide ongoing support is a critical Champion goal. “We don’t get into a business unless we know we can service that business and service the customers.”
Champion grew from a $40 million company to a $120 million company over the last decade. The team is eager to continue this upward trend and sees a natural path for future expansion. “We are becoming an outdoor power equipment supplier,” Mr. Welzbacher points out. “When you look at the outdoor power equipment business right now, we are in three of the four categories that support that industry. Once you are winning in a couple categories it makes a lot of sense to say, ‘what other related products are right next door to what we are already doing?’ We see opportunity to expand into other product categories that are under the outdoor product category like chipper shredders, tillers, and chainsaws.”
Essentially, any outdoor equipment with an engine is a potential Champion product. “Champion is primarily an engine manufacturer, so when we look at growing our business we look at other engine related categories that we can go after. We think that we have now developed our brand strong enough to where the credibility of our product and our customer service will lend itself to these other categories that we get in.” With a world-class R&D facility and range of market-leading products, Champion certainly has the traction it needs for continued growth and success.